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Full text of "My country and my people"

THE   ARTISTIC   LIFE                    383
and Wu Taotzu solved it by his mastery of the brash, distinguished by its boldness and freedom, Instead of concealing the line, the artist glorified it, (We shall see the same principle in Chinese architecture,) Thus in place of the dead and servile lines of Ku K'aichih (346-407) which were more or less even as if drawn by a steel pen, Wu started the so-called "orchid-petal line/5 curling and constantly changing in width, due to the natural rhythm of a stroke laid with the sensitive brush. In fact, it was from Wu Taotzu's strokes that his pupil Chang Hsu created the extremely swift style of entwining ropes in calligraphy. Wang Wei (Mochieh, 699-759) further developed and modified the stroke in painting, sometimes abolishing the traditional method of "tracing outlines/' and consequently is generally credited with having founded the "southern school.*5 Its far-reaching consequences we shall soon see.
The second problem is: How shall the artist's personality be projected into the work and make it worthy of the name of an art, transcending mere efforts at verisimilitude, yet without sacrificing truth, harmony or reality? This revolt against mere physical accuracy is also back of all the new tendencies in modern art, which may be described as searching for an escape from the material reality and for methods of indicating the artist's own ego in the work. The same revolt came in the history of Chinese art in the eighth century with the new school. People felt tired or dissatisfied with photographic reproductions of the material reality.
Here was the same old problem: How could the artist invest the objects with his own emotions or reactions without producing a grotesque caricature? The problem had already been solved in Chinese poetry. The revolt was a revolt against mere accuracy and minute craftsmanship. The contrast between the new and the old school is interestingly shown in the story of two paintings of Szechuen landscapes on palace walls, done by Li Ssuhsiin (651-716) and Wu Taotzu during the reign of T'ang Minghuang, It is said that Li, the master of the "northern school," did his landscape in about a month, with all its tracery work and golden colours, while Wu did his grand landscape of the entire Chingling river in a day's time in splashes of ink, and the Emperor said, "Li Ssiihsiin did it In